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FREDERICTON – The Canadian Union of Public Employees – New Brunswick (CUPE-NB) is asking the government to respect the legal bargaining process established under the Public Service Labour Relations Act.

Last week at a meeting with the Premier, we were informed of the government’s intention to implement a Wage Restraint Policy for the employees of Parts I, II, III and IV of the public sector.  At that meeting, we reminded the government that we have a bargaining process in place and that such discussion should be taking place at the bargaining table”, said Daniel Légère President of CUPE NB.

Today, we are here to reiterate our position.  The Premier of this province should not try to bypass the collective bargaining process. This right is legislated and the Supreme Court of Canada has clearly stated that provincial governments should respect collective bargaining.  We lived through tough economic times before and our right to collective bargaining has always prevailed,” explained Légère.

It’s certainly easier to agree to a wage restraint policy when you voted yourself a generous wage increase like the Members of the Legislative Assembly did not even a year ago.  The MLA’s, the Ministers and the Premier’s salary doubled last year.  This is not the case of the average New Brunswickers and our members.”

We currently have three groups in bargaining. They are CUPE 2745, the school support workers; CUPE 1190, the transportation group; and CUPE 1840, the court stenographers.  Some of our members don’t have full employment and make on average $16 000 a year.  Asking them to take no wage or benefit increase for two years is totally unfair”, said Légère.

All three groups have voiced their desire to return to bargaining and let the process take its normal course.

The mandate we received from our members is to negotiate, not to accept offers made under treat of legislation. We want to negotiate in good faith and if the government legislates wage restraints, we will cross that bridge when we get there.  We can assure you that our members will defend the right to free collective bargaining.”

CUPE is very concerned with the path this government is following.  The government wants to restrain wages not only for its employees, but also to any employees funded by public funds such as universities and municipalities.  These measures will not stimulate the economy – on the contrary, it will slow down people’s expenses.

The government decision to cut 700 jobs is not the way to stimulate the economy.  Furthermore, the government’s decision not to offer any retirement package or workforce adjustment package will impoverish the affected persons even more. Those job reductions will also have an impact on the services they provide.

In a time of crisis, the government should have come to the stakeholders to try to find solutions instead of being confrontational”, concluded Légère.   

For more information:
Daniel Légère
President CUPE NB

Danielle Savoie
CUPE Communication